Foreign drivers who don’t pay the Dart Charge should be pursued as actively as those in the UK, says the Freight Transport Association (FTA).
A Freedom of Information request by BBC Radio Kent has revealed that almost a quarter of foreign registered vehicles are failing to pay the charge for using the Dartford Crossing.
Figures show only 77.1% of foreign drivers pay first time. Barriers at the crossing were removed in November 2014 and the electronic Dart Charge system replaced pay booths. Drivers can pay online, using a mobile app, by telephone, at a pay zone outlet or through a pre-pay account.
Natalie Chapman, FTA’s Head of Policy for London and the South East, said: “Removing the tolls has reduced congestion, which can only be good for traffic flow and the environment.
“But all vehicles, wherever they are based, should be paying the charge and should be pursued for non-payment. Otherwise, what starts off as a relatively small problem of non-compliance can quickly grow to a big problem and that creates an uneven playing field for UK operators.”
FTA is in favour of the Dart Charge system and does not believe vehicles should be held up in toll queues, but the improvement in congestion at the Dartford Crossing will only be temporary as traffic volumes continue to increase and exceed capacity.
“We need to press ahead with plans for a new Lower Thames Crossing to ensure freight traffic is kept moving. It costs roughly £1 a minute to run a 44-tonne truck so every hour in queue adds £60 for operators,” said Ms Chapman.